Low: C'mon (Sub Pop) 

Once upon a time, Low was all about minimalism: Guitar, stripped-down drums, bass and the vocals of Mimi Parker and Alan Sparhawk were all the band needed to craft songs that fit their name. Low moved beyond that minimalism and melancholy more than a decade ago, but that hasn't stopped them from maintaining a stark essence from record to record, even with more instruments and songs that are the definition of sublime.

C'mon is no exception. Recorded in the same church used to record 2002's Trust, C'mon has classic Low songs infused with epic proportions. "$20" and "Majesty/Magic" both start out with the foundational Low formula, but on the latter, strange things happen in the background, adding a more haunting texture to Sparhawk's key changes; by the end, the guitars let loose and conjure spells. Less than a minute into "Done," lap steel appears courtesy of Nels Cline, and even a little banjo leaks in toward the end to accentuate the despair.

And then there are the songs that are epic, infused with classic Low nuances: On "Especially Me," Parker harmonizes with herself against heart-thumping percussion in an aural contemplation of the ancient Socratic realization of not knowing anything. "Witches" kicks in with a guitar riff out of an arena or a hit single, which makes sense, as C'mon was produced by Matt Beckley (Avril Lavigne, Katy Perry). Cline adds guitars to the meditative "Nothing but Heart."

C'mon seems to be an ante-up for Low, as if the album title is a self-created coax to keep blending the revolutionary with the traditional.

More by Annie Holub


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